Oh the Things We Have Seen: First Impressions of ABC's Pan Am

Pan Am preview


Just after fall schedules are determined at networks' upfront presentations in late May, major networks send the pilots of their new programs to the media. These previews are not for in-depth review, because many pilots are retooled, recast, and reshot before they officially debut, and the final product might be much different. But that doesn't mean we can't share some basic ideas of what to expect!


The Show: Pan Am on ABC which will air Sundays at 10pm beginning September 25. The series has been picked up by BBC2 for broadcast in the UK.

The Cast: Christina Ricci, Kelli Garner, Mike Vogel (who replaces Jonah Lotan), Michael Mosley, Karine Vanasse, Margo Robbie, Annabelle Wallis

ABC's official logline: "Passion, jealousy and espionage... They do it all—and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series."

Early Intel: It would be foolish to think the genesis of Pan Am wasn't influenced by the critical success and buzz of AMC's Mad Men. But will a '60s period piece fly on network television? Not if it puts up the same ratings as Mad Men. It's a risky move for ABC to latch on to a trend that only barely works on cable, but at least Pan Am looks better than NBC's The Playboy Club.

First Thoughts: Wow, that was a pretty show. I have no idea what it's about, but at least it looked good.

What the series has going for it: For whatever reason, we're all intrigued with the Jet Age: The stewardesses in their pressedm conservative-yet-sexy uniforms, handsome pilots flying iron birds around the globe, and commercial jets opening up the skies during the height of the Cold War. Pan Am has all this, and it looks great doing it. Michael Mosley is entertaining as an amorous, jocular co-pilot. And no matter what your sexual appetite, there are plenty of hotties to put your tray in the upright position, if you know what I'm sayin'. But then again, everyone looks good in a '60s-era uniform.

Room for Improvement: Pan Am's pilot suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. It's a show about romance in an age of wonder, right? Sort of. Amidst the MANY—seriously, there are tons—stories about spurned love and unwanted marriage, there's a major plotline involving espionage, and it makes the rest of the characters seem relatively unimportant. Who is going to care that one cute stewardess can't find love when there's another cute stewardess who's working to stop Fidel Castro? One more thing: Why would the show go out of its way to get a star like Christina Ricci and then give her nothing to work with in the pilot?

The Coolest Part of the Early Version: The male lead in the pilot, Jonah Lotan, was certainly dashing as Captain Dean. But he's since been replaced by Mike Vogel, for whatever reason. It's a shame, as Lotan filled the uniform out well.

Last Word: Both the cast and the show itself are pretty, pretty, pretty. But Pan Am needs to decide whether it's a spy show with major consequences or a fluffy Grey's on a plane.


Here's ABC's official trailer for the series:


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+ First Impressions of The CW's Ringer, Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar
+ First impressions of J.J. Abrams' Alcatraz
+ First impressions of ABC's Apartment 23


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (17)
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add...i just watched the preview clip/sorry...having done that...if this does'nt become a mega hit-with a long list of emmys for next yr then something is mighty wrong and it is not in the look, actors or idea,because what i just saw is PURE GOLD!
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now we have 60's noir,how nice...i like it. if it can rival mad men in any way then i am in. there is something about the look that is appealing and the stories can be just as sophisticated and gritty... go for it...i would watch just because christina ricci is in it anyway!
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I would have watched this with Lotan in it - without - forget it, no longer on my radar
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I will definately watch it, it looks pretty good and I know i'll like it
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I like it
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sounds great, i can hardly wait
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I'm surprised Mr. Tim Surette is still allowed to write for tv.com after he insulted Summer glau and her fans in a previous article.
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If you hadn't noticed Tim is writing most of the articles now, hes pretty much the tv.com show-runner. Although he was using IGN flame tactics with the Summer Glau comment, on which I had to call him out, I think we should also give him a little slack. And credit when its due, he's got a lot on his plate, and for the most part hes doing a fine job.
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Looks different, I'll check it out if I get the chance.
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A good show never seals its fate in a pilot so if it still has to decide which genre to classify itself in then that's a good thing.
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I think I'll check it out. It doesn't look all that great though. Probably won't last.
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i wanna see pan-am looks interesting, besides i always wanted to be a flight attendant in the 60s
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I'm deeply hurt by what you wrote about Summer Glau and her fans and i hope i'm not the only one. I'm a huge fan of Summer Glau but that doesn't mean automatically i'm a stalker or a nerd or both, unlike what you're implying in your article.



Summer Glau has played two of the most iconic characters in scifi history but i doubt these characters would have had this impact without Summer Glau's subtile and inspired performances.



Summer Glau carries herself with dignity, and appreciates her fans as much as they appreciate her as a result.She is so talented, driven, and engaged that she excels almost immediately in any part she plays. She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and she has a raw and pure talent that allows her to breathe vivacious life into her characters.



Scifi shows have a tendency to get cancelled on broacast tv these days and Summer Glau is tycast, this is true; i don't recall Miss Glau played on The Event, No Ordinary Family, V or Flasforward though.



I can understand some internet users want to sound funny by mentioning the so-called Summer Glau curse but this is inadmissible when it comes from someone who claims to be a journalist and write in such a famous website. Not to mention this is insulting for her fans and for herself.



And don't tell me that i have no sense of humour, or that it was not meant to be taken seriously or that you're a great fan of hers as they say each time. That doesn't remove one inch of the feeling to have been insulted. less
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Jeez! Are you Summer's agent or mother or what??? take a chill pill dude, Mr. Surette makes a living that way, it's called TV Critic for a reason.

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The fact that you are posting this on all of Tim's articles, also screams stalker.
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lmao sad4u
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Calling it now: Plane gets hijacked and flown into something within 2 seasons, if the show survives long enough.
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